I’ve been spending some time lately working on a community cookbook – a compilation of Bulgarian and non-Bulgarian recipes from friends and colleagues.  Last year I overhauled the previous cookbook that had circulated among us for awhile, and this year I’m just tidying things up a bit.  Another American friend, who will stay here for a year longer than I, has been helping shape it up, and she came over last weekend for a joint editing session.  It goes without saying that we cooked – some nice pizza on Friday, some fancy sandwiches on Saturday – but the star of the weekend would be the recipe for a triple-ginger bread that she toted along from allrecipes, that we of course tweaked.  Fresh grated ginger, dried ginger, and crystallized ginger form the trifecta of rhizome love that is this sweet, sticky, densely-flavored cake.

My favorite gingerbread recipe is the one from Baking with Julia that includes cocoa powder, coffee, and tons of ground black pepper.  This is a bit too much for many, and I can accept that, but I can’t make any gingerbread now without adding just a pinch of black pepper – it adds a layer of heat that plays perfectly off that of the ginger.

Bulgaria friends and colleagues: this recipe will not be going in the cookbook, since you can’t easily get crystallized ginger or molasses here.  But next week I will be posting something from the freshly-updated reference.  I’m still not sure which recipe I’ll use, though, so if there’s anything you’d like photographed and talked about, kazhi.

Gingerbomb Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat to 350F (175C). Butter and flour a 10″ springform pan. In a large bowl sift together flours, cinnamon, cloves, powdered ginger, black pepper, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil, molasses, apple juice, and fresh ginger. Add wet to dry and mix until just combined. Fold in crystallized ginger. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for an hour or until a thin knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake before releasing the sides of the pan. Serve warm.